The 3 biggest mistakes recruiters make when qualifying candidates

High quality recruitment is about more than just sending CVs and getting people into a client’s inbox. It’s about helping clients to engage and onboard candidates successfully – and that requires a detailed and strategic approach to candidate qualification.

Get it wrong, and time and money leaks through an agency’s processes.

Get it right, and consistent billing and reliable revenue follow.  

The level of understanding a recruiter has of his or her candidates is often overlooked as a meaningful differentiator from competition.

Most recruiters think of ‘differentiators’ in terms of brand, pricing, resources or infrastructure. 

On a personal level, they may consider ‘market knowledge’ as a factor – how well they know their space and the companies, trends and currents within it.

But they might not think about the relationships they have with each individual candidate – a ‘USP’ that’s unique to each and every recruitment process.

Despite that, it’s a hugely important point.

Recruiters who learn the art of expertly qualifying and understanding candidates for each role or process build a sizeable advantage over their competitors and add major value for their customers. 

But correctly qualifying candidates for roles isn’t easy.

A lot of recruitment training places the emphasis on template-based interrogation of the candidate, focused heavily on vetting for hard skills in an assessment-style approach.

While this ticks some important boxes, it leaves other critically important areas untouched. 

And getting candidate qualification right is as much about knowing what to avoid as it is about knowing where to concentrate.

Here are the three biggest mistakes recruiters make, and why they’re so costly:

  1. Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias can kick in really quickly when looking at a CV or a LinkedIn profile. 

Often recruiters decide after a quick glance that a candidate is ‘perfect’ for what they’re looking for, and this can negatively impact the rest of the process – even if the candidate genuinely is a strong match. 

By deciding early that a candidate is a great fit, recruiters can slip up by spending less time than usual with them in initial qualifying calls – skipping over important vetting questions, or leaving the candidate not feeling sufficiently invested in to commit fully to the role.  

What’s not covered early on due to a rush of enthusiasm (other interviews the candidate may have, notice periods, family situation, relocation etc.) can come back to haunt recruiters later down the line. 

  1. Not digging into true motivation

Understanding candidate motivation is commonly understood as ‘what someone wants’.

Better phrased, it’s about why they want what they want.

Knowing that a candidate wants a pay rise, for instance, with no knowledge of their circumstances, life goals, financial situation etc. is borderline useless information when it comes to working with that candidate throughout an interview process.

Understanding, instead, what that raise would mean for them, their ambitions or their family, adds vital context that hugely increases the depth of connection in subsequent conversations. 

  1. Ignoring early warning signs

Too often recruiters get excited over a strong-looking CV, and put their fingers in their ears when something starts alerting them that the process is at risk of collapse.

Candidates agreeing reluctantly to having their CVs submitted, being slow in their responses, not replying to emails or calls… all of these are basic signals of a lack of commitment, which plenty of recruiters are happy to ignore in blind pursuit of hitting activity KPIs. 

An increased level of discipline helps recruiters separate emotion and enthusiasm from the reality of the situation, making better decisions and driving better outcomes. 

By re-framing candidate qualification as true deep-dive process to understand candidates at a more meaningful level, and following a rigid process that doesn’t bend for even the best CV, recruiters gain a valuable new level of control over their processes, and can better invest their time where the highest chances of deals are.

About Jeremy Snell 

Jeremy has been working in and around the recruitment industry for the majority of his career. He serves a global audience of consultants, 

helping them to become more productive and efficient. Much of his work is now delivered online through a training and coaching 

membership site for ambitious recruiters.

Membership feedback highlights the value of consistent access to up to date content and the bite sized nature of the materials making it easy to learn, digest and implement. Jeremy’s mission is to help every consultant achieve their full potential and achieve more, by focusing on doing less. | |


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